Stage Door: Chaperones, Monsters, Beasts and… Girl Power?

'The Drowsy Chaperone,' 'Monsters of Baseball' and 'Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood' are just some of the choices onstage this weekend.

click to enlarge Van Ackerman in "The Drowsy Chaperone" - Photo: Mikki Schaffner Photography
Photo: Mikki Schaffner Photography
Van Ackerman in "The Drowsy Chaperone"

George Gershwin’s song “Summertime” tells us that the “livin’ is easy.” Onstage it can also be entertaining. And that’s what’s happening at the few theaters that currently have productions onstage.

The final production of the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater’s summer season, The Drowsy Chaperone, is a frothy musical with an unusual twist. It’s framed with narration by a “man in a chair” who loves musicals and offers commentary about a 1928 Jazz Age show (not a real one) that he loves and helps him get beyond feeling blue. The show is silly, but it offers countless excuses for humor, singing and dancing, and the quirky man’s observations and anecdotes — the action freezes when he offers his insights — add to the fun. Van Ackerman’s performance is both amusing and endearing. Read more about it here. Through Aug. 27. Tickets: 513-241-6550.

That number gets you to the central box office for Cincinnati Landmark Productions, which is also presenting the final weekend of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast by Cincinnati Young People’s Theatre at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts. It’s populated with high school actors from across the Tristate. Performances are tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. and wrap up with a 2 p.m. matinee and 7:30 p.m. performance on Sunday.

Meanwhile, back at the Incline on Saturday at 1 p.m. you’ll find a performance for the kids by Madcap Puppets (now operating under CLP’s umbrella). Monsters of Baseball is a fun outing for the kids about disobeying a sign stating “No Monsters Allowed” at a ballpark. The performance using giant puppets shares the history and tradition of baseball with songs, stories and poems. (And it’s only $6 per ticket.) Same box office number.

Another set of traditions are being played with at Know Theatre in Over-the-Rhine, where the current production is Adam Szymkowicz’s Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood, onstage through Aug. 18. It’s a gender-bending take on the legend, working from the premise that Maid Marian (played by the always spunky Maggie Lou Rader) actually is Robin Hood, and the Merry Men would be more accurately described as Merry People, since most of them are women. This tongue-in-cheek is a little too grown up for kids, but it’s just the kind of offbeat humor that Know presents regularly. Read more about it here. Tickets: 513-300-5669.

Out at Beechmont Players (the community theater group performs at the Anderson Center Theatre), you'll find a presentation of the regional premiere of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach. That’s exciting in itself, but even more so because the musical’s composer and lyricist are Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who created this year’s Tony Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen. (They also wrote Academy Award-winning music for La La Land.) Peach is about an orphan striving to escape the clutches of his evil aunts. With his unusual friends he overcomes hunger, sharks and more. Promotion for the show calls it a “masterpeach” for the whole family. It opens tonight and continues through Aug. 12. Tickets: 513-233-2468.

This week’s free park performances by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company include Merry Wives of Windsor (tonight at Cottell Park in Mason) plus Romeo and Juliet (Saturday at the Summit Park Canopy at the Blue Ash Recreation Center and Sunday at Miami Township West Community Park in Cleves). All three events commence at 7 p.m. More info: cincyshakes.com/shakespeare-in-the-park.


Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here. 

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